It’s one of Canada Post‘s busiest mail sorting plants, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and on an April day when Ontario had just announced 4,227 new coronavirus cases, workers and managers at the Gateway postal facility in Mississauga held a retirement party for a departing postal worker.
Pictures of the celebration supplied to Global News by a worker show masked and unmasked individuals posing for photographs in front of a “Happy Retirement” banner.
“Management allowed it to happen,” said the worker, a Global News viewer who attended the event at Gateway’s mech-oversize area located in the west area of the plant.
Global News elected to blur the faces of those in attendance.
The worker said management is turning a “blind eye” to safety protocols at the plant, including the celebration. He said it lasted for almost an hour.
The party included pizza, cake, and drinks. Some attendees were seen hugging one another and socializing during the lunch break period.
“This is shocking news,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie on Wednesday when asked about the party.
“This is incredibly irresponsible. If they (Canada Post) had a house party, it would be no different — we’d be over there and ticketing it.”
Pictures of the celebration were shared among employees on social media apps, including WhatsApp.
In the days after the retirement party on Gateway’s shift two, three female employees in attendance tested positive for coronavirus. Two women still have not returned to work, according to the source who supplied the photographs.
Canada Post acknowledged the party took place during the shift at the plant, which was between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“A brief gathering was held for a retiring colleague in Gateway West in April,” said Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault.
“While we appreciate that physical distancing and other measures were apparently followed, we simply do not allow gatherings within the facility for any reason.”
“That’s not true,” the employee told Global News, who stressed that physical distancing provisions were not met and that Canada Post managers were aware that the party was planned.
“They can’t throw a party like that without management allowing it to happen and a manager and a superintendent were right in the party, they’re in the pictures.”
The source said the celebration went on for about 50 minutes.
Sources told Global News it wasn’t the only retirement party at Gateway in April. On April 21, another event was held at the Toronto Exchange Office area of the facility, according to the source.
Six days later, Peel Region’s public health department ordered the third shift to isolate at home for 10 days because of 12 cases of COVID-19, the same shift where the celebration took place.
“I am extremely disappointed in the workers over at Canada Post,” Crombie added, after announcing that all Peel Region residents over 18 would be eligible to register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine effective Thursday.